My earliest relationships with alcohol, were like so many peoples, acquired through experiences of family meals, parties and weddings. I then began, what many have described as the normative stuff of experimental adolescent binge drinking and drug taking. Much aligned with my early desires to express an anti-establishment, heavy metal and hippy persona.
During my early 20’s, this expanded into a full-on hedonistic lifestyle. A daily cocktail of alcohol, cannabis and other drugs. Like many in the North Wales hills, this included developing a love affair with the local organic product: magic mushrooms. Many of the other illegal drugs drifted in and out of habits, much as I drifted in and out of employment, hotels and kitchens. My communities of those working in hospitality, climbing mountains, chasing rock bands, students and those without work, were all full of the pursuit of hedonisms, and having an abundance of alcohol and drugs was very much integral to this.
Not very long after I got married, and as my 30th birthday approached, I tired of the catering lifestyle and sought to retrain as a social worker. While my intention was always to work in the generic environments, and keep the alcohol and drugs to my private life, fate never really let it happen that way.
With my teeth already cut through becoming a psychodynamic counsellor at the local alcohol agency, it perhaps was inevitable the only person post my qualification that offered this non-suit wearing hippy a job, was the lovely Ian Wardle at Lifeline.
From there, I have now spent the best part of thirty years as a registered social worker. I have worked across numerous contexts: voluntary and statutory; practitioner and manager; supervisor, commissioner etc. Today, my skills and knowledge of practice are used to support my dear friends at North Wales Recovery Communities.
The last pieces of the jigsaw began at the turn of the century, when I was generously supported by a manager to undertake a PhD. I had already by then done a Masters in social work, began some research work for Home Office, and was teaching on social work programmes. When re-organisational agendas saw the prospect of my job moving some 300 miles away, I was fortunate enough to secure an academic post in Glyndwr (now Wrexham) University, and complete my PhD.
From some early forages in research interspersed with the demands of teaching, I am now some 13 years later employed as a Professor of Alcohol Studies. I am now immensely privileged to spend the majority of my time researching alcohol and drugs across numerous countries. I have published extensively, in the academic arena, but also always with an equal attention to that which is more accessible to the practice community.
Being involved in this film project with David, feels like a natural and obvious next step on this ever rich and rewarding journey.